It’s a bird! It’s a plane! It’s a newsletter from 7 Generation Games! 3

You Can’t Be Excellent in Your Spare Time
Dr. AnnMaria De Mars
Help. Thanks. Wow.

     Author Anne Lamott says that all prayers boil down to one of those three words. I know my life certainly does. So, first, thanks. Thanks to everyone who has backed us on Kickstarter, bought our games, been a game tester in those early days and all-nighters of a thousand bugs.
Now here we are. Wow.

I want to start off this newsletter giving back to you something valuable – the most useful lesson I learned this year. It’s this – you can’t be excellent in your spare time. I should know. I tried it. Along with running 7 Generation Games, I was working as a statistical consultant, chair of a non-profit board and teaching graduate school. We did well. We met our deadlines, hired some great people, put two good games on the market. We accomplished a lot.

When it came down to time to ask investors for money, I had to take a hard look at myself and at the company and ask if I was not all in, how could I ask other people to take a risk? Yes, I worked without pay many months and I put some a lot of my own funds in the company. However, I still had these other sources of income to hedge my bets, and those ‘hedge funds’ were taking time away from the company. In less than three months, I turned down NINE contracts. By the last one, I was really taking a deep breath as I typed the email, “I’m sorry I won’t be able to accept …”

     Then, on Monday we found out that we had been recommended to receive another $100,000 for a Small Business Innovation Research grant. Wow. 

     Whether it is a career, an education, a company or a sport when you only devote part of your efforts, you miss out on so much. You may be getting everything “necessary” completed, but no one ever achieved greatness by only doing what is necessary. In the past few weeks, I have said approximately 40,876 times,

“I am SO glad I took the risk to focus 100%”

If something matters to you, take the plunge, step off the precipice. Yes, it will be scary and hard to let go when you have a secure job offer or comfortable situation where you are. Do it. Trust me. Within six months, you will find yourself saying, “Wow.” (More on this story in our next newsletter …)

     Help. We have a new game coming out, Forgotten Trail, which we are super-excited about. It is for older players, so there will be more adult content. (Not that kind of adult content, get your mind out of the gutter! I meant more adult vocabulary, subjects and story line.)

We have a Kickstarter campaign coming up and we need your brains. What would you do to get more people to know about it? What kind of awards would you offer people to back it? (Maria wanted to add that bags of money are also acceptable forms of help. We’ll leave the door open if you want to throw one in.) We would love to hear your ideas by emailing us at or calling our office at 310-804-9553.

Fish Lake Poster

Do you know any schools or teachers that could benefit from our games?

We are able to offer free game licenses to classrooms in Title I schools for both Fish Lake or Spirit Lake.

If you know a teacher or school that could benefit from playing our adventure games, simply email us at:

We are very excited to have been featured in Indian Country Today Media Network! See the article below.
Math Video Games Being Tested in Reservation Classrooms

Six schools on two North Dakota reservations are piloting a series of cutting-edge math video games that bridge math, adventure gaming and Native American culture—games that students and tribal members played an integral role in helping create. The pilot program began January 26, 2015.

The games—“Spirit Lake: The Game” and “Fish Lake”—are based on the Dakota and Ojibwe tribes and focus on teaching middle school-level math concepts. The games are the first math video games ever created with the Native American market in mind.

7 Generation Games’ cultural team members are based on both the Spirit Lake and Turtle Mountain reservations in North Dakota. The team created and vetted the cultural content, while Native students also had significant input into the game’s design and content. Direct changes were made during the early production phases to incorporate student feedback and suggestions.

“You can make the best math game in the world, but if kids don’t want to play it, there’s no value to it,” 7 Generation CEO AnnMaria De Mars said. “It was the students’ input that really took the games from something good to something great.”

7 Generation Games mission is to create innovative ways to incorporate additional cultural content into the classroom without taking time from other subjects.

“Incorporating culture into the classroom will enhance student learning, boost self-esteem, and help address behavior problems. This will help our students when it comes to concentrating on math and other subjects,” explains Dr. Erich Longie, 7 Generation Games Senior Cultural Consultant.

In early beta testing done at schools on and near the Spirit Lake reservation, students who used the game three times a week (2.25 total hours per week) for six weeks saw a 300 percent increase in scores over students who did not play the game.

To learn how your classroom or child can get involved, visit the 7 Generation Games website at

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